The truth is most of the reasonably reputable fitness programs out there do work.
Whether it’s a 7-minute workout app, one of Anna Victoria’s programs (my personal faves), the programs of her competitors… or just a regular old treadmill and schedule… most programs do work. The missing ingredient isn’t what one program has and another doesn’t, it’s participation and follow-through.
I like things to happen instantly. I guess I am used to the instant satisfaction of social media and high-speed internet, instant downloads and such. So I acknowledge that this is true about me: when I get a few weeks into a program and don’t see crazy results I start being curious about other programs and can be seduced by their promises.
It’s easy to forget that the before and after photos for ANY program’s advertisements are going to show people who have done the WHOLE program. Not just part of it. So why am I holding it against the program that I don’t see those results when I’m only part way through?
It’s not a super logical way to go about fitness. However, since I myself am susceptible to thinking that I should just move on I’m here to remind you the key is working hard. You can choose any framework and plan to give yourself structure and timelines but no plan works unless you do.
Here are my top 5 strategies for staying focused:
You know you want to get fit and healthy. And you know how. You have good food and a workout plan picked out… but this is about you.
You start thinking you’re so busy, or so tired, or not wearing the right clothes… you start to negotiate with yourself about how you didn’t snack so you don’t need to do the full workout or how you could just do two workouts tomorrow instead of one today and one tomorrow…
When you start negotiating you start slipping. Don’t let yourself do that. Hold yourself to a high standard and remind yourself that if you compromise on your workout and meals, even just here and there, you’re compromising on the big goals that inspired you to start this plan.
Schedule or Create a Daily Deadline
Okay so, of course, it seems ideal to just schedule your workout and know that at this particular time you need to be getting sweaty. But if you find that nailing down a time doesn’t really promote the commitment you need then give yourself a daily deadline. For example, I know that I get my best results (I work hardest, and I make better decisions for the rest of my day) when I work out in the morning. Doesn’t really matter if it’s at 8:30am or 11:30am… as long as it is before noon. Noon is a mental divide for me. When I workout before then it sets my mood for the rest of the day and translates to better decisions food wise and continuing to move and be active.
But if I don’t work out before noon I tend to stay lazy. I snack passively and never really get moving or active.
So even though I don’t set a specific time to work out most days, I know my daily deadline is noon and I need to plan to workout before then.
Really, it comes down to having a plan, whatever is the most effective style or format for you.
Add a little Social Support (and a little Social Pressure)
I talked in my post How a Virtual Community is Fuelling Success in Real Life about starting my fitness-focused Instagram account, @fitish.kitten . I had that account locked down as tight as I could – new followers had to send a request and be approved, and I used a quote instead of my face for a profile picture. If it came up in my friend’s social feeds as a recommended account it wouldn’t come up as me; my name and image were invisible unless you followed me and I did not allow most people I knew to follow me.
It was as though my desire to get fit was a secret.
I have photos of myself in typical stripped-down fitness wear for “before” photos and progress photos on this account. Originally the idea that people I knew, friends and family, would see these photos was horrifying to me. Like stop dead in my tracks and sweat a lot horrifying.
Recently I realized it shouldn’t be. It’s no secret that I want to get fit. My body isn’t a secret, either. So I’ve got a little more curve than I want… it’s not a sin and it doesn’t need to be a secret.
There’s a lot of social support in posting online. There’s always positive role models and friends to remind you of your accomplishments and provide advice and encouragement through challenges.
Sometimes even more needed though is the social pressure. At this time I have 875 followers with @fitish.kitten. That blows my mind! I’m so honored that all those people wanted to see where I take my fitness journey… and sometimes, not wanting to let them down is the only reason I work out! (shhh!)
It’s like they say, pressure makes diamonds!
Focus on Feeling Better
It’s a body-positive world. For the most part, when you’re focused on a slimmer body and looking better you’ll find that these goals lose impact over time. One day I put on an outfit that doesn’t fit right and I hate the shape of my body so I get really motivated for working out and eating better. But a few weeks later I buy a better-fitting outfit and I can move on.
I don’t need to lose weight to be loved. I don’t need to lose weight to be attractive. I don’t need to lose weight to be who I am and contribute to society.
So… why do I need to lose weight? Why do I need to take time out of my day to bond with the treadmill? And why do I need to put down the fries and make veggies my new BFF’s?
Because I can feel the difference. The moment I can go from my basement to the top floor of my house and not be awkwardly out of breath with a racing heart. The moment I can walk my hyperactive dog for an hour an a half without breaking a sweat. The moment I can say yes to trying new activities without doing the mental math on if I’m physically capable and how embarrassing failure might be.
These are the moments that keep me going and focused and motivated. The looks are a great benefit to having a healthy lifestyle but when changing my appearance was my only reason, I found better things to do with my time.
Pick Treats that add Value to your Lifestyle
I fully believe in cheating on your diet from time to time. I’ve come to feel there’s a difference though between just cheating because you miss junk food and cheating because it’s part of a larger lifestyle to enjoy a healthy indulgence now and then.
For example, there’s a difference between me crushing a bag of chips alone while binging through the latest Netflix release simply because I deserve them as a treat and like snacking while I watch tv…. and me enjoying a super greasy burger while out with friends.
In one scenario the junk food has no purpose and adds nothing to my life. I would have watched the show anyway and I could have snacked on veggies or fruit with the same effect. However in the other scenario, the food wasn’t really the point – the social time with friends is. It’s nice to say yes to a cheat meal when doing so frees up the mental energy of eating healthy for you to give your friends your full attention while enjoying a night out.
Besides, for me personally, when I give myself a treat meal in isolation it’s almost like nobody saw it so it didn’t happen and I can just casually have another, and another until I’m binge eating whenever I’m alone. Which is every day given that I work from home and my partners have 9-5 jobs outside the home. It’s not healthy for me to develop habits like that so now I’m focusing on cheat meals that add value beyond just being a cheat meal for the sake of it.
What are the go-to ways you keep yourself on track?